Lucretia Grindle's latest novel, Villa Triste
, is an engaging blend of historical fiction and present day murder mystery. In alternating chapters she provides detailed insight into life during WWII Italy while at the same time drawing her readers into a satisfyingly complex detective procedural.
The opening chapters are narrated by Catarina Commaccio, a young woman on the verge of marrying Lodo, an Italian Navy officer, on September 8, 1943 the day the King of Italy surrenders to the Allies (see "Beyond the Book"). A nurse, Catarina is an eyewitness to the impact of war on the civilian population of Florence as the Allies and Axis powers fight to control the territory. She is gradually drawn into helping the Italian Partisans in their battle against the Germans and Benito Mussolini's Fascists.
A second storyline is set in modern-day...
Beyond the Book
Italy's role during WWII can seem puzzling, as the country gave the appearance of switching allegiances more than once during the course of the conflict, at times ostensibly siding with the Axis powers, at others supporting the Allies. This contradiction, though, can be seen as a reflection of a volatile period in Italy's history, as various political factions sought to gain control.
King Victor Emmanuel III (1869 – 1947) ascended the throne of Italy on 29 July 1900. Reforms were already well underway to convert the country to...